Blog Post 5 Dysfunctional Traits of a Team and 5 Strategies to Resolve Them

5 Dysfunctional Traits of a Team and 5 Strategies to Resolve Them
Jan

18

2009

5 Dysfunctional Traits of a Team and 5 Strategies to Resolve Them

By Mark D. Kent, MBA, FACHE.
5 Dysfunctional Traits of a Team and 5 Strategies to Resolve Them Article featured on South Florida Hospital News.

A lot of time is spent teaching those in leadership positions to lead. While the real issue rests with followers not knowing how to follow. In other words, they don’t know how to – or don’t really want to – work together. While vision and strategy are essential to company and team success, teams fail due to five dysfunctional traits: they are afraid of conflict within the team; they don’t trust each other; they aren’t held accountable for individual and team results; they are not focused on results; nor are they committed to success.

The rewards of striving to create a functional, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organization looking for a sustainable yet powerful point of differentiation. Well functioning teams avoid wasting time talking about the wrong issue and revisiting the same topics over and over again due to lack of buy-in. Well functioning teams also make higher quality decisions and accomplish more in less time and with less distraction and frustration. Additionally, “A” players, the star associates, rarely leave organizations where they are part of a cohesive well functioning team.

Having worked with many teams, across several industries such as Aerospace Defense, Government, and Healthcare, I’ve noticed that ineffective teams demonstrate several dysfunctional traits:

  1. Lack of Commitment: The lack of clarity or the fear of being wrong prevents team members from making decisions in a definitive and timely manner. When conflict is removed, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, which creates an environment of ambiguity. The lack of clear direction and commitment can make associates, particularly star associates, disgruntled and want to remove themselves from the team.
  2. Absence of Trust: The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team. This occurs when team members are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another and refuse to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain level of comfort amongst team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.
  3. Avoidance of Accountability: The need to avoid relational discomfort prevents teams from holding one another accountable for their behaviors. When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions or behaviors that are counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
  4. Fear of Conflict: The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of unfiltered, productive conflict. Teams that are lacking trust are incapable of engaging in candid and passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In settings where team members do not openly air opinions, inferior decisions will always result.
  5. Inattention to Results: Individually, team members will put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals within the team aren’t held accountable. This desire for individual credit will erode the focus on collective success. If the team has lost sight of the need for collective achievement, the business ultimately suffers.

Why the gap? What gets in the way of building a high performance team?

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Mark Kent is the Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Health Care in Evansville, Indiana operating several locations in Evansville and Newburgh, and an acute care hospital. Prior to joining Women’s Health Care he was the Chief Executive Officer of the CAC- Florida Medical Centers (a subsidiary of Humana, Inc) and was responsible for building this division from 18 locations to 58 locations with expansion across the state of Florida. Prior to assuming this position, he was Market President of the Ohio and Indiana Senior Products segment of the East Central Region with Humana growing this market from 47 thousand members to over 250 thousand members across Medicare and Group Retirement plan products.